Everything you should know about walking pneumonia
By Amitha Raj Goklaney
Posted in: Health
What, why, where, when and how: Answers for all your walking pneumonia questions
Most of us experience coughing and other cold symptoms on multiple occasions throughout the year. We don’t always take care of it, however, and many a time we tend to ignore the common cold altogether. At the same time, there can be situations where cold-like symptoms can develop into a form of pneumonia which could include headaches and fever as well. Pneumonia may sound serious to a layperson, but it isn’t necessarily so. There are different types of this infection, which can be diagnosed based on the severity of the symptoms a patient is experiencing. One example is walking pneumonia, which is still a mystery to many of us.
Understanding walking pneumonia and its symptoms
Walking pneumonia is the non-medical term for a mild case of pneumonia that has been caused by bacteria or viruses. ‘Walking’ is used because the symptoms in this case are usually mild enough that they don’t really interfere with one’s daily activities. Walking pneumonia can still be uncomfortable, however, with coughing, fever, chest pain, mild chills, headaches, and other ailments. It’s comparable to having a very bad cold. Bed-rest or hospitalization is usually not necessary, and just taking care of yourself tends to be the best path to recovery.
Sometimes, a little extra rest is all it takes to recover.
Dr. Muneeb Ali, a medical Expert on JustAnswer, explains that: "Walking Pneumonia is caused by atypical organisms such as chlamydia, mycoplasma, legionella or other organisms." He also lists the symptoms of walking pneumonia as follows:
- Persistent dry cough which worsens at night
- Coughing that produces mucus (sputum)
- Chest pain which worsens on deep breaths
- Fatigue, tiredness
- Sore throat
- A fast heartbeat
- Chills and shakes
- Low grade fever
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
Walking pneumonia is also often associated with paroxysmal coughing, which can damage a person’s vocal cords. Post-nasal drips can cause inflammation and irritation of the cords, leading to difficulty in speaking. It can take weeks for this inflammation to reduce, especially if the cords are in constant use.
What should you do if diagnosed with walking pneumonia?
Even if your symptoms are mild, a visit to the doctor is a good idea if you suspect you have walking pneumonia. Symptoms like fever, nasal congestion, coughing, and increased mucus production can usually be relieved using over-the-counter medications including paracetamol, antihistamines, and even cough syrup. If your case of walking pneumonia was caused by bacteria, it can typically be treated with antibiotics like Cipro, Levaquin, Azithromycin and Biaxin. Amoxicillin may also be prescribed, but it is generally not effective against the causative bacteria. In these cases, the doctor will try a different antibiotic course based on their evaluation.
While recovery time varies from one person to another, symptoms improve for most people within three to five days. However, the coughing could persist for weeks, or even months after treatment. Recovery speed will be influenced by the severity of the infection, as well as the effectiveness of the chosen treatment. Also important is whether you have other medical conditions, such as asthma, COPD or if you are taking certain medications. Most importantly, it is always crucial to get plenty of rest and increase your fluid intake for as long as you aren’t feeling well.
What causes walking pneumonia and how can you avoid it?
Like regular pneumonia, walking pneumonia is contagious and can spread from an infected person when they sneeze or cough. The mycoplasma bacteria from the airborne water droplets infect the victim’s upper and lower respiratory tracts. Usually, the infection spreads easily in crowded places such as schools, dormitories and nursing homes. While people of any age can contract walking pneumonia, younger adults and schoolchildren are generally at greater risk.
Dr. Chip, a Medical Expert from JustAnswer, explains: “If no one you were in contact with while you were sick, has caught pneumonia themselves, it is not a problem. If you have been symptom-free after having taken all antibiotics, you are not contagious.” He also adds that not everyone who interacts with an infected person will necessarily get pneumonia themselves. It is usually people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, sick people, pregnant women, and children.
The following tips can help reduce the risk of infection:
- A flu vaccination every year can prevent pneumonia caused by the flu virus
- Follow a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm, soapy water
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and encourage others to do the same
- Stop smoking
As seen above, walking pneumonia is a mild and treatable form of the infection. However, to be certain that you have actually contracted walking pneumonia, you’ll need a doctor’s opinion. The qualified medical Experts on JustAnswer can help, even if you’re seeking assistance in the middle of the night. All you need is an internet connection to access step-by-step guidelines that can help you identify the issue at hand so the right treatment can be found. Ask your pneumonia-related questions, or get more information on vaccines for pneumonia, quickly and affordably, from the medical experts on JustAnswer.
Have you experienced walking pneumonia? How was your experience, and how did you overcome it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.